Thursday, October 01, 2009

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act come in to force

Have you been cloned yet?

Today's the day.

Gosh, how exciting. A plethora of mini-Cranmers all contending with the religious quarrels and political nonsense of the day.

It is being implemented in three stages, but this bright and glorious day heralds the bulk of it. It is the beginning of a brave new world of fertilisation and embryology experimentation.

Parliament approved the Bill last autumn, and it is replete with controversial issues.

One of Cranmer’s loyal communicants writes:

“Much fuss was made, and quite right too. However, tucked away here and there are aspects which were agreed with hardly a squeak. This was not because these are refreshingly un-contentious. Far from it. But rather because we were barely told about them.

One of these concerned the use of bodily tissues donated for research. The Act permits the use of such tissue to create embryonic clones, fully human or using animal eggs, of the donor for destructive research. In mitigation it must be added hastily that explicit consent must be obtained from the donor for their cells to be used in this way. Now, whatever one’s personal view on such research, that must be seen as a reasonable protocol, respecting bodily integrity and personal choice.

But it’s not that simple.

Exceptions are written into the legislation. Tissue already held in tissue banks may be used if it is “not reasonably possible” for the researcher to trace and obtain consent from the donor and he is not aware of any evidence to suggest they would object (how would he be aware?). Tissue from children may be used in this way if their parents consent. Tissue from the mentally incapacitated can also be used and that bright almost-new Mental Capacity Act was tweaked so that the prohibition on intrusive research did not apply. How? Well, by deeming that using tissue from a mentally incapacitated person to create their clone and then destroy it is not “intrusive”.

What did our elected representatives have to say about this?

Well not much, apparently. But then, it was slipped in after the only free votes (for the Government, that is), debated only in Committee, and then pushed through the remaining Commons stages on a guillotine and with Labour MPs on a three line whip.

But at least we know that efforts must be made to trace us and seek explicit consent before our stored tissue can be used.

Except that the UK Biobank seem to think they needn’t bother.

This organisation currently holds cells provided by over 363,000 altruistic individuals which they make available for medical research. Unlike Generation Scotland, a Scottish counterpart, they see no need to commit themselves to obtaining explicit consent. If tissues are supplied to researchers anonymised, as is often the case, there is not a lot that researchers can do.

If UK Biobank want people to keep faith with them and continue to donate tissue for research, they need to think again. We need to able to trust our research community. And they need our trust because without it they will lose our support. At least that’s how they see it in Scotland.

And that was the message of Alder Hey, too. Is it so soon forgotten?


Blogger English Viking said...

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Gen 6 v 5

1 October 2009 at 10:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

So if I am stretchered into a hospital and they take a blood sample, which includes my DNA, then they can use it to combine with animal matter – without my consent.

What then prevents the State from depositing DNA collected at one source, at the scene of a murder?

It was once said by British socialism that they would look after us from ‘cradle to grave’. Perhaps it is now from trumped-up charges, to prosecution, to conviction to prison.

Human rights groups in Britain, quite rightly, criticise the National Police Improvement Agency for unjustifiably keeping DNA samples of those who have not been charged nor found guilty of any crime. They are supported by a decision this year of the European Court of Human Rights (non-EU) – yet on this issue their silence is deafening.

Why would that be? The Left-liberal agenda trumps freedom and security of the citizen by the ‘advancement of science’ card – a position approved of by the Nazi and Communist – who define a man’s worth on the basis of their barbaric ideologies.

New Labour dismissed the concerns of Christians during the final stages of the Bill. The Christians in the, then, Glasgow East by-election dismissed New Labour: overturning a Labour majority of over 13,500.

And the forthcoming General Election and Brown’s anticipated appearance on Songs of Praise?

Bring it on!

1 October 2009 at 11:08  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Where is Cameron's input on this? Probably in the same place as his policies - nowhere of any bloody use.

High time we brought on Guy Fawkes II: The Smoking Rubble.

1 October 2009 at 12:27  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ D. Singh—I believe the Snot Eater has already had his moment of glory on Songs of Praise.

1 October 2009 at 13:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace,

Another aspect that may be of interest to those who reflect upon political strategy in the main parties may be this; whilst the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill was making its way through parliament: it was clear that Christians came out into the public square to make their voice heard.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Conor, head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, contesting the rising tide of secularism has said that secularism is trying to turn Britain into a ‘God free zone.’

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has repeatedly warned that the State risks becoming ‘sterile and oppressive… unless it is continually engaged in a conversation with those who speak for the gospel.’

The think-tank, Theos, aims to: promote an ‘overall aim of putting God “back” into the public domain’.

The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, said that the Bill was another attack from the ‘militantly atheist and secularist lobby’ an expression of its ‘tyrannical’ belief ‘in the right to ‘kill unborn children and surplus old people’.

The ‘need for a father clause’ in the Bill was described by the Conservative MP, Andrew Selous as ‘the most fundamental human right that any child in the world could ask for’.

Iain Duncan-Smith MP told the Commons that the Bill would ‘send a powerful signal to everyone involved that fathers no longer matter’.

Bill cash MP said that ‘In many ways, our age is one of technology giants and ethical infants – we are like children playing with land mines, because we have no idea of the dangers posed by the technology that we are handling.’

Edward Leigh MP said that embryonic stem cell research was simultaneously ‘ethically wrong and almost certainly medically useless’.

Around Easter, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, cardinal Keith O’Brien attacked the provisions in the Bill for hybrid embryos as a ‘Government endorsement of experiments of Frankenstein proportion’.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Conor said that unregulated scientific progress ‘could lead us to a kind of utilitarianism regarding human life which does no justice to the sanctity of life [a concept absent in Nazi and Communist ideologies]’.

R. David Muir of the Evangelical Alliance said ‘Just because science can do something doesn’t mean that it should.’

The General Secretary of the Christian Medical Fellowship, Peter Saunders, said of the Bill that Parliament had shown itself to be ‘seriously out of touch with the opinion of the British people’.
Dan Boucher, Director of Parliamentary Affairs for Christian Action Research and Education called for the vote ‘to provoke Christians to engage in the public square with greater energy and wisdom’.

Andrea Williams, Public Policy Director of Christian Concern for Our Nation, called for the Parliamentary vote ‘to be a wake-up call for the Church’.

The Bishop of Motherwell, Jim Devine, the second most senior catholic figure in Scotland (whose diocese covered Glasgow East) fired that Labour had ‘broken its pact with Christian voters’, that the socialists were seeking ‘to expel any notion of God from public debate and legislation’ and that Labour had ‘lost its ethical credibility in the nation at large’ and could no longer take Catholic support for granted.

The Labour minister, Ruth Kelly said ‘that it was difficult to be a Christian in politics these days’. She resigned to ‘spend more time with her family’.

The point of these quotations is to reveal very clearly to the main political parties that the Christian vote is becoming influential; more vociferous, organised and ready to contest the issues that confront this once great nation.

No political party seems to have a strategy to harness the Christian, essentially conservative, vote in this country.

That leaves room for someone, to organise Christians into a voting block, stand up and say, ‘This is The Moral Majority.’

[Johnny Rottenborough – thank you.]

1 October 2009 at 14:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, what is anyones objection to this? Do you believe that by cloning your DNA "they" somehow clone your soul?

1 October 2009 at 14:24  
Blogger moorlandhunter said...

What an awful photo. Almost lost my toasted teacake and cup of cha!

1 October 2009 at 16:38  
Blogger PaulineG said...


In order to be OK with what is happening here you have to be OK with a number of things:

1: The creation of human embryos to be destroyed for research.

2: The creation of human cloned embryos.

3: The creation of human-animal cloned embryos using an animal egg.

4: The use of a person’s bodily cells to do any of these things without their explicit consent.

5: The sanction of this in law without either the public or their elected representatives being permitted any say in the matter.

6. The manner in which UK Biobank apparently propose to circumvent the flimsy constraints in the law.

Some people object to destructive embryo research. More people object to embryos being created specifically for the purpose (as opposed to the use of only so-called spare embryos). Even more people object to human cloning. More still object to mixing human and animals material to create a mixed species embryo. More people still object to the idea that this can be done without the explicit consent of the cell donor. And I would have thought that everyone who believes in democracy should object to the manipulative and anti-democratic way in which this was manoeuvred into the Act and in which the wording of the Act is being interpreted by UK Biobank.

Does that answer your question, Anonymous?

1 October 2009 at 17:52  
Blogger ultramontane grumpy old catholic said...

D Singh

"What then prevents the State from depositing DNA collected at one source, at the scene of a murder?"

This could be used both ways. What if a criminal has earlier donated tissue or given blood? Could a clever barrister argue that since this DNA still existed somewhere there was a reasonable doubt that it could have been used to stitch up the defendant. Maybe this could sway a jury.

If so, congratulations New Labour - you will have managed to undermine the most spectacular advance in forensic science since the introduction of fingerprinting.

Gnostic - I agree with your sentiments entirely. Come back Guy Fawkes - all is forgiven.

1 October 2009 at 18:51  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Further to Anonymous @ 14:24 - No, we don't think they can clone our souls. They do.

1 October 2009 at 22:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ultramontane Grumpy Old Catholic

I shall try and get back to you on this - please be patient with me this day.

For this day I have to go and fight on The Daily Telegraph's webiste for Ireland's day of reckoning over the Lisbon (Constitutional) Treaty has come.

Perhaps in the words of one of my military heroes:

'Troop! Wheel to the left.

Double-line abreast.

Attack order!

At the gallop;


2 October 2009 at 08:22  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

This image is truly obscene and grotesque. I wonder what Dr. Freud would make of His Grace's choice, imo his first serious lapse of taste .The Style Council cannot support you on this one.

2 October 2009 at 09:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ultramontane grumpy old catholic

I agree. Either way it would mean the collapse of our criminal justice system.

2 October 2009 at 10:00  
Blogger PaulineG said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2 October 2009 at 10:16  
Blogger PaulineG said...


It is grotesque, agreed. But maybe useful as a wake up call?

You might be interested in this commentary on the Act from Julian Savulescu, Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at Oxford:

2 October 2009 at 10:20  
Anonymous Egg Donors said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

23 February 2010 at 05:11  

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